Wednesday, October 19, 2016

An easy way to sell more stuff on eBay: Know your first-class shipping rates

Much of what I've been selling on eBay is single items of clothing, single or small lots of household items (many of which I'm flipping from Dollar Tree or Savers), books, and so forth. Most of these are 16 ounces or under, which means you can send them first class if you buy the postage through a commercial account, which eBay's postage portal is. (FYI, books, CDs, sheet music, and similar can be sent via media mail, but it isn't cheaper until you hit a pound, and I don't believe eBay discounts it.)

For whatever reason, eBay doesn't account for the steeply discounted postage rates they give you. Especially for first-class mail, the commercial account is substantially cheaper than the retail price. But when you enter the size and weight of your item, the price it shows (and charges the customer...) is the higher price you'd pay at the post office counter.

For the clothing item I just sold, which is 14 ounces, eBay listed the shipping at $6.45. The actual price I paid for shipping was $3.55. This is an item I listed a month ago, before I really thought about the shipping rates, so someone did eventually buy it and I got to pocket the difference.

This item did sell, and someone was willing to pay the rather high shipping rate. However it would have likely sold more quickly had I listed the shipping at $3.55. So what I did today was create more shipping policies. See the chart I made? The commercial rate is what eBay charges for first-class packages if you buy the postage through the eBay website, and the retail rate is what you'd pay at the post office, and also what eBay charges the buyer.

The only way I could figure out to reflect the shipping discounts other than manually entering it on every listing was to create shipping policies. I didn't want to make nine separate shipping polices (I might next time I get bored...), but I created two policies, one called "1-8 ounces, $2.60 flat" and one called "9-16 ounces, $3.65 flat." Now, the buyer is paying considerably less for shipping at most weights. (Nine ounces seems to be an anomaly. I'll work on more policies eventually.) For shipping prices like $2.60 vs. $2.62 or $3.65 vs. $3.78, I doubt most buyers notice or care. But at some weights, my items are now listed at $3.65 shipping instead of $6.45, or $2.60 instead of $3.40, which is surely going to make my items sell faster.

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